Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mayes v. People case brief

Mayes v. People case brief summary
106 Ill. 306 (1883)

Plaintiff in error brought a writ of error to the Circuit Court of Jersey County (Illinois). Plaintiff in error, by the judgment of the court below, was convicted of the crime of murder. He was sentenced to the penitentiary for the term of his natural life.

Plaintiff in error threw a beer glass against a lighted oil lamp that his wife was carrying. The lamp broke, the burning oil splattered on her, and she burned to death. Plaintiff in error's daughter and mother-in-law witnessed the tragedy. On appeal, plaintiff in error claimed he only meant to throw the glass out an open door. The court determined that the facts proved constituted murder. The jury did not err in believing his mother-in-law and daughter and disbelieving his version of the events.

  • The court concluded that even if plaintiff in error did not intend to strike his wife with the glass, he manifested a reckless murderous disposition and a heart void of social duty sufficient to satisfy the intent requirement. 
  • He may have intended some other result, but he was responsible for the actual result. 
  • Plaintiff in error, while fatally bent on mischief acted solely from general malicious recklessness, disregarding any and all consequences. 
  • A strong man who violently threw a heavy beer glass in a direction that he must have known could probably hit his wife, sufficiently manifested malice in general to render his act murderous when death was the consequence of it.


The court affirmed plaintiff in error's conviction for murder of his wife.

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